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Afghanistan– Time To Say Good-Bye… In Fact, Long Past Time

Posted by DownWithTyranny on January 23rd, 2012

From our partners at DownWithTyranny!


I spent a lot of time traipsing all over Afghanistan in the ’60s and ’70s. What a spectacularly beautiful and unique country! And what terrific, hospitable people! Because I also operate a travel blog, people are always asking me if it’s safe to visit Afghanistan yet. And I always tell them the same thing: Maybe your grandchildren will be able to someday. Although Afghanistan was only ranked #7 last year among the world’s worst failed states… well #1 is Somalia, and Afghanistan was named the second most dangerous place to visit, right after Somalia.

And these days, it’s not even safe, or especially not safe, if you’re heavily armed and trained to kill. The Afs want their country back and they want the occupiers out. They’ve always been like that, and they always win in the end.

American and other coalition forces here are being killed in increasing numbers by the very Afghan soldiers they fight alongside and train, in attacks motivated by deep-seated animosity between the supposedly allied forces, according to American and Afghan officers and a classified coalition report obtained by the New York Times.

A decade into the war in Afghanistan, the report makes clear that these killings have become the most visible symptom of a far deeper ailment plaguing the war effort: the contempt each side holds for the other, never mind the Taliban. The ill will and mistrust run deep among civilians and militaries on both sides, raising questions about what future role the United States and its allies can expect to play in Afghanistan.

Underscoring the danger, four French service members were killed and a number were wounded on Friday when a gunman wearing an Afghan National Army uniform turned his weapon on them, according to an Afghan police official in Kapisa Province in eastern Afghanistan where the incident occurred and a Western official in Kabul, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press. The Afghan police official, Asdullah Hamidi, said the shooting happened in Tagab District, an area that is viewed as dangerous and dominated by insurgent forces.

The gunman is in custody, a NATO official said.

The violence, and the failure by coalition commanders to address it, casts a harsh spotlight on the shortcomings of American efforts to build a functional Afghan Army, a pillar of the Obama administration’s strategy for extricating the United States from the war in Afghanistan, said the officers and experts who helped shape the strategy.

The problems risk leaving the United States and its allies dependent on an Afghan force that is permeated by anti-Western sentiment and incapable of combating the Taliban and other militants when NATO’s combat mission ends in 2014, they said.

One instance of the general level of antipathy in the war exploded into uncomfortable view last week when video emerged of American Marines urinating on dead Taliban fighters. Although American commanders quickly took action and condemned the act, chat-room and Facebook posts by Marines and their supporters were full of praise for the desecration.

But the most troubling fallout has been the mounting number of Westerners killed by their Afghan allies, events that have been routinely dismissed by American and NATO officials as isolated episodes that are the work of disturbed individual soldiers or Taliban infiltrators, and not indicative of a larger pattern. The unusually blunt report, which was prepared for a subordinate American command in eastern Afghanistan, takes a decidedly different view.

“Lethal altercations are clearly not rare or isolated; they reflect a rapidly growing systemic homicide threat (a magnitude of which may be unprecedented between ‘allies’ in modern military history),” it said. Official NATO pronouncements to the contrary “seem disingenuous, if not profoundly intellectually dishonest,” said the report, and it played down the role of Taliban infiltrators in the killings.

The coalition refused to comment on the classified report. But “incidents in the recent past where Afghan soldiers have wounded or killed I.S.A.F. members are isolated cases and are not occurring on a routine basis,” said Lt. Col. Jimmie E. Cummings Jr. of the Army, a spokesman for the American-led International Security Assistance Force. “We train and are partnered with Afghan personnel every day and we are not seeing any issues or concerns with our relationships.”

The numbers appear to tell a different story. Although NATO does not release a complete tally of its forces’ deaths at the hands of Afghan soldiers and the police, the classified report and coalition news releases indicate that Afghan forces have attacked American and allied service members nearly three dozen times since 2007.

Two members of the French Foreign Legion and one American soldier were killed in separate episodes in the past month, according to statements by NATO. The classified report found that between May 2007 and May 2011, when it was completed, at least 58 Western service members were killed in 26 separate attacks by Afghan soldiers and the police nationwide. Most of those attacks have occurred since October 2009. This toll represented 6 percent of all hostile coalition deaths during that period, the report said.

“The sense of hatred is growing rapidly,” said an Afghan Army colonel. He described his troops as “thieves, liars and drug addicts,” but also said that the Americans were “rude, arrogant bullies who use foul language.”

…“If you get two 18-year-olds from two different cultures and put them in New York, you get a gang fight,” said Anthony H. Cordesman, a defense expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington who has advised the American military on its Afghan strategy.

“What you have here are two very different cultures with different values,” he said in a telephone interview. “They treat each other with contempt.”

The United States soldier was killed this month when an Afghan soldier opened fire on Americans playing volleyball at a base in the southern province of Zabul. The assailant was quickly gunned down. The deadliest single incident came last April when an Afghan Air Force colonel, Ahmed Gul, killed eight unsuspecting American officers and a contractor with shots to the head inside their headquarters.

“U.S. soldiers don’t listen, they are too arrogant,” said one of the Afghan soldiers surveyed, according to the report. “They get upset due to their casualties, so they take it out on civilians during their searches,” said another.

The Americans were equally as scathing. “U.S. soldiers’ perceptions of A.N.A. members were extremely negative across categories,” the report found, using the initials for the Afghan National Army. Those categories included “trustworthiness on patrol,” “honesty and integrity,” and “drug abuse.” The Americans also voiced suspicions about the Afghans being in league with the Taliban, a problem well documented among the Afghan police.

“They are stoned all the time; some even while on patrol with us,” one soldier was quoted as saying. Another said, “They are pretty much gutless in combat; we do most of the fighting.”

Stoned all the time? You bet. Gutless? Not on your life. They fight differently, but Afs are anything but gutless and probably have similar feelings about Americans… or maybe consider them terminally reckless. But since the first day of the invasion I’ve been saying that this is a place America doesn’t belong, will never understand and can never defeat– short of nuclear carpet bombing. And even the Russians couldn’t bring themselves to do that. The AP reported that the U.S. puppet leader there, Hamid Karzai, met personally with Hizb-i-Islami insurgents.

Hizb-i-Islami is a radical Islamist militia that controls territory in Afghanistan’s northeast and launches attacks against U.S. forces from Pakistan. Its leader, powerful warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, is a former U.S. ally now listed as a terrorist by Washington.

Based over the Pakistan border, Hekmatyar has ties to al-Qaida and has launched deadly attacks on U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Fighters loyal to Hekmatyar also have strongholds in Baghlan, Kunduz and Kunar provinces in the north and northeast Afghanistan.

The other main insurgent group is the feared Haqqani network, which maintains close ties to both al-Qaida and the Taliban and commands the loyalties of an estimated 10,000 fighters. The Haqqanis have been blamed for a series of spectacular attacks, including suicide bombings inside Kabul.

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